Unit of Time Use Variables in the ATUS


Hi, I’m working on the 2011 ATUS and in need of help to understand the unit of time use variables for elder care.

Let’s say, I download “caring for and helping household members: adults” variable from the BLS Published Tables, a drop-down under the Time Use tab on the ATUS-X site, and tabulate it. The result looks like:


I wish I knew what 1.527526 means. Would you mind letting me know if it’s the estimated hours on a given day, week, or month?

Thank you very much!


The unit of measure for the time use variables is number of minutes. So, a mean of 1.5 indicates that on average individuals in the sample spend 1.5 minutes caring for and helping other adult members of the household on the day they were interviewed. This figure may seem low, but there are likely a lot of zeros in the data (see the relativlely large standard deviation), which will pull down the average.